Nothing saps creativity and stalls career growth like burnout. The symptoms come on slowly, and it can feel like there are no obvious red flags warning you that your career is losing steam. At least not at first.
As times passes, every day begins to feel the same. You start to feel like every project mimics the last, and you’re suddenly in a career rut. You begin to feel a deep sense of dissatisfaction and a high level of anxiety, and you might notice a tendency to obsess over your past choices and future prospects. It can become tempting to make hasty, overblown, and irrational decisions. Ultimately, these feelings manifest themselves as physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion — otherwise known as burnout.
Why Tech Is at Risk for Burnout
This epidemic is particularly pronounced in tech-related fields, where jobs often revolve around critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Burnout can eliminate your ability to be effective at work, which can easily bleed over into your personal life and reinforce your anxiety.
Tech jobs don’t just stay at the office. They will follow you home and mingle with the demands of personal life. That can leave you feeling exhausted and make solving complex data puzzles even more difficult.
So how do you know when burnout is looming? A quick test is considering how intellectually stimulated you feel about your work. Burnout often first surfaces when you no longer feel engaged or excited by your work — not the ideal mental condition for handling the complex puzzle-solving that tech jobs revolve around.
6 Tips for Ensuring Burnout Doesn’t Eliminate Your Spark
The key to avoiding career slumps can actually be found outside the office, regardless of your industry. Tackle these six tips before burnout, boredom, or anxiety strike.
- Take time off. Working long hours, weekends, and holidays takes a serious toll. Even though you’re trying to work hard and get more done, you might begin to feel tired, foggy, and unfocused. Rather than let these conditions get worse, regularly take time off to rest. Plan a short vacation to restore your energy, creativity, and motivation.
- Commit to sleep. Putting in the most hours at the office doesn’t always mean you’re getting the most done. This can be especially true if your work focuses on abstract thinking instead of a lot of routine tasks. No amount of coffee or Red Bull can make up for getting enough sleep on a regular basis. Clarity of mind is worth many times its weight in gold.
- Learn something new. Just because you feel dissatisfied at work doesn’t mean that the rest of your professional life has to suffer. Try taking a class on something that interests you or learning a new skill that might help you tackle the biggest issues you face on a daily basis. Not only does this get your mind off everyday tasks, but it also helps you build the credentials to kick-start your career.
- Always remain active. Confining your body to a cubicle often results in your mind feeling confined, too. Sitting all day can make your brain and body feel sluggish. Getting some exercise inside and outside the office directly correlates to higher energy levels, clearer thinking, and even an improved mood. Try taking the stairs at work or setting a timer to remind you to stand up and walk around.
- Eat well. Your diet inside and outside the office also has an impact on performance. Heavy meals and sugary snacks both contribute to feelings of lethargy. Eating well and drinking lots of water can fuel you physically, mentally, and professionally.
- Make yourself happy. This statement might seem simplistic, but it’s an obvious fact lots of professionals overlook. Life is about being fulfilled, and that means doing things that make you happy in addition to whatever you do for work.
Burnout can happen to the best of us, often at the most inopportune moment. It can be tempting to want to muscle through your fatigue, but that will only make things worse. Instead, take some time to invest in your overall health. We are hardwired to look for comfort and find efficiency in our work. Instead, go in the direction of uncertainty and curiosity to keep your professional passion alive.